Judge denies Kott second chance for a new trial

Richard Mauer

Former Rep. Pete Kott won't get a second chance to ask for a new trial on corruption charges, a federal judge ruled this week.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick on Monday told Kott he won't reconsider his Jan. 13 ruling denying Kott a new trial or dismissal of charges. New information that surfaced the day after his January ruling was insignificant and won't change his mind, Sedwick said in a one-page, unsigned order from chambers.

Kott has been arguing for months that federal prosecutors improperly withheld information that he could have used in his defense. But in his Jan. 13 ruling, Sedwick said the withheld evidence wouldn't have made a difference in Kott's 2007 conviction. And he told Kott his decision was final: "This court will not entertain any motion for reconsideration," Sedwick said.

But then came a surprise: Prosecutors came into possession of 105 pages of handwritten notes by the attorney who represented Bill Allen, the former oil-services company chief who admitted bribing Kott and others. Allen was the government's chief witness. The notes were made by Anchorage attorney Bob Bundy as he sat through several debriefings of Allen by the FBI and Justice Department lawyers.

The notes were provided by Allen and his attorney in December to the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, which is investigating the six prosecutors who brought former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens to trial for failing to disclose house renovations and other gifts from Allen. Stevens was found guilty, but charges were dismissed when the Justice Department admitted it failed to provide favorable information in its files to Stevens -- the same claim that Kott and another convicted ex-legislator, Vic Kohring, have made.

Four of the Stevens prosecutors under investigation also conducted the Kott and Kohring trials.

According to a Justice Department brief, the government's Public Integrity Section, which has been managing the Alaska corruption cases, received Bundy's notes Jan. 6, and provided them to Kott's lawyer Jan. 14, the day after Sedwick denied Kott a new trial. Two weeks later, Kott asked Sedwick to reconsider his Jan. 13 order.

Sedwick said at least some of the notes "are not particularly helpful to Kott" and that none "are material in the context of all the evidence." In any event, the government had no duty to disclose them to Kott before the trial because prosecutors didn't possess them, Sedwick said.

Kott remains free while he appeals his case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Kohring is free while his attorneys prepare a motion for a new trial due in March.

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